The Fellowship “represents an investment in the leaders, innovators, and pioneers of tomorrow”, says President Joe Biden
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, September 27, 2021 – President Joe Biden has unveiled an inspiring initiative that will enable 100 students from the Quad nations, including India, to pursue advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at leading universities in the United States.
The president convened the first in-person meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) at the White House Friday, bringing together Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The Quad group – US, India, Australia and Japan – is made up of democratic countries that share a worldview and have a common vision of the future which includes countering the belligerent actions of China.
Addressing the Quad Leaders Summit in the elegant East Room of the White House, Biden announced that the multilateral forum is “launching a new Quad Fellowship for students from each of our Quad countries to pursue advanced degrees in leading STEM programs here in the United States. It represents an investment in the leaders, innovators, and pioneers of tomorrow”, he said.
The Fellowship, sponsored by private donors, will bring 25 students from each Quad country every year to pursue either a master’s or doctoral degree at a leading STEM graduate university in the United States. It is stewarded by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative, with generous support from Accenture, Blackstone, Boeing, Google, Mastercard, and Western Digital.
The major fellowship “will bring students from India, from Japan, from Australia, and the United States – a hundred in total – over the course of the next year and a half to study in elite universities in the United States, in areas related to science and technology, as a clear signal of the importance of these issues to all of our countries’ futures”, Biden administration officials said in a call with reporters on the eve of the summit.
“That’s a signature initiative designed to indicate that we want and encourage Quad countries to send their best students to work with us and to build those lines of communication and coordination with young people”, the officials said while previewing the Quad Leaders Summit and bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi.
The US has issued a record 62,000 visas to Indian students so far in 2021. Some 200,000 Indian students are enrolled in universities across America contributing a whopping $7.7 billion annually to the US economy.
The Quad Fellowship will offer another avenue for brilliant Indian students to pursue advanced STEM courses here.
The Fulbright Program worldwide has been bringing Americans and Indians closer together for 71 years since its launch in India. In 2008, India decided to jointly fund the fellowships with the United States, and renamed the program the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship Program. Till now, over 20,000 fellowships and grants have been awarded under this exchange program.
The Partnership 2020 program is another initiative that continues to foster higher education cooperation to promote economic growth and technological advances. In collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, this program funds 15 research partnerships between US and Indian universities in the fields of advanced engineering, artificial intelligence, public health, and energy, among others.
On Friday, at the White House, leaders of the Quad alliance recommitted “to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond”, according to a joint statement released after the talks.
“We are proud to begin a new chapter of educational and people-to-people cooperation as we inaugurate the Quad Fellowship”, read the joint communique. “Through the Quad Fellowship, our next generation of STEM talent will be prepared to lead the Quad and other like-minded partners towards the innovations that will shape our shared future”, stated leaders of the Quad partnership.
“We’re four major democracies – have a long history of cooperation”, Biden said. “We know how to get things done. And we are up to the challenge”.